Mar 192014

By Naomi Hatch
Taylor Intermediate School Principal Debbie Muder and Taylor Elementary School Principal Jeremy Hatch gave raves reviews to the Snowflake Unified School District Governing Board last week on the Capturing Kids’ Hearts Conference they recently attended.
“In my 31 years working in the school district, this conference was probably the one that impacted me the most,” said Muder. “The whole thing was talking about how we need to engage and explore.”
They learned the model EXCEL, which is E for Engage, meeting and greeting; X for Xplor, discover individuals needs; C for Communicate, I care and make my message relevant; E for Empower, my teaching becomes your doing; and L for Launch, meaningful ending. She said to notice the E and the X are before the C even if there is a conflict.
There were four questions they learned to ask. What are you doing? What are you supposed to be doing? Are you doing it? What are you going to do about it?
“You don’t have to raise your voice or anything,” said Muder. “It takes it and puts it all back on them.”
She further noted that the instructor emphasized taking problems with disrespect and misbehavior, and dealing with them separately.
“Truly the business of teaching and working in any business is building relations,” said Muder. The instructor said to spend time together, affirm and listen, be aware of my need to be right and be willing to ask for forgiveness.
Muder explained that the 45 to 50 people attending the conference came together the first day and were broken into four groups. Throughout the conference they came up with words or short phrases for a social contract. At the end of the conference they met and wrote down words or phrases they had come up with regarding how they were going to treat each other, and then they signed the contract.
The idea is to have students sign the contract and when they misbehave, they already have their social contract, Muder explained.
“For me it was the thing of building those relationships and how important that really is, that without that foundation it’s a mess,” said Muder.
Hatch said he agreed with Muder’s presentation 100 percent, but took it one step further, asking, “How will that impact our school?”
He said the biggest complaint of those in the classroom is that the administrators wouldn’t back them. “If we follow the system, teachers become backable,” he said. “There’s not punishment happening or no disturbing things happening with kids because they followed the EXCEL model.
“Now we need to look at a program like this to make us better people, make us more interactive with our students,” said Hatch. “It does change the way you start communicating with kids. You start to learn why they do certain things instead of jumping on them for doing the wrong thing.”
“We’ve been working on curriculum and alignments. The next step is to turn back to the human side of things and make sure we’re having the relationship we need to have,” said Superintendent Hollis Merrell.
In other action March 13, the board:
* Approved the SUSD Staff Handbook put together by administrative assistant Tohna Rogers.
Merrell explained that Rogers had put together questions employees frequently ask, then listed or referenced the policy to the question. The handbook was sent to the attorney, but had not been returned to Merrell, so the board approved the handbook pending approval of the attorney.
* Approved the TIS Student Handbook.
* Approved the Special Services Consortium membership agreement.
* Approved out of state travel for basketball coaches to attend the Nike Clinic in Las Vegas, Nev.
The costs will be paid from the Athletic Auxiliary account, which includes gate receipts from games.
* Approved using Title II funds for teacher recruitment.
“One thing we’ve been concerned about is finding teachers to replace those that are retiring,” said Merrell. It was suggested they use a signing bonus with the hopes of finding high quality teachers to replace those leaving.